|Flesh Dub, River Ure|
17th October 2013
10th October 2013
10th October 2013
|John with resident hen fish|
|Cheerful MCX with Mr Grumpy|
We then made our way up to the top of the beat for a bite of lunch in preparation for fishing Frodle, Flesh and Willow in the afternoon.
It was clearly John's day: he took 2 more fish, including a thumping 22 pounder, whilst all I could manage were a couple of misses. Sadly I was not in range with the camera for the big one, and remained a distant spectator of his antics on the ledge between the 2 oak trees at the bottom of Frodle Dub. As I've previously noted, Murphy's Law says that when fighting a fish you will always be on the wrong side of a tree, so John was really tempting fate by working between 2 trees.
A week later we were back on a pre-booked expedition, with part of the team staying overnight at the Bolton Arms at Redmire, and others coming and going between the Thursday and Friday. The Bolton is an outstandingly good pub, with nice rooms, great food (a truly heroic breakfast), real beer and genuine atmosphere. Its 5 star rating on Trip Advisor and Booking.com means that lots of people agree with us. I joined John and Patrick for breakfast on Thursday morning before heading out full of food and optimism.
|Flesh Dub at +24"|
1015 am 17th October 2013
|Hen fish - Flesh Dub|
17th October 2013
After a dozen casts came that delirious sensation of the strong turn away of a good fish aided by heavy water. On completing the turn she delivered a marvellous sea trout imitation with a perfect vertical take off completely clear of the water before going down and across the flow at top speed. As you can see from her steel-grey colour and shine, she was straight up from the estuary in perfect condition and fighting fit. As a guide my wading boot is 13" long and positioned to stop everything slipping back down the steep bank after a solo netting (there was no better option). The hook was lodged in the back of the scissors of her right jaw (opposite to my fishing bank) and would not have yielded to anything short of dynamite.
|Willow Bush Run|
I fished on down to Willow, which was running at high speed (no, that's a leaf, not the take that I missed shortly after putting the camera away). This run fishes better with the water somewhat lower and slower, which allows good oblique presentation of the fly across the tail and entrance. This run is a classic example of the pointlessness of chasing the far bank. The flow there is much slower and in seconds you have a giant belly in the line and a fly travelling at warp speed.
I trudged back up to Frodle to have lunch, taking in the delightful view in the opening picture of this post. Patrick had caught a fish there earlier, but we agreed that we should be doing better in such conditions. In retrospect I reckon that we were perhaps being a mite hard on ourselves because the river needed to shed another foot before attaining perfection.
Spurred on to try even harder, despite the digestive demands of a truly enormous Scotch egg, I dully went back to Flesh Dub. By now the water had dropped and cleared, the low October sun was quite strong and moving towards shining straight down the pool. There was pronounced scattering of light in the water and a high level of sub-surface brightness. Taken together these factors were causing a significant loss of horizontal underwater visibility. These were not easy conditions for salmon, who lacking an iris in the eye to adjust to awkward light, rely on a slower-acting pigment that works like a form of biological dark glasses (there's a fuller explanation in 'Here's Looking at You'). Although the water level and speed (and the MCX Calculator) still suggested using a well-sunk tube, the unusual light conditions led me to select a lighter tip and a #8 Cascade in order to give the fish the best chance of seeing the fly in the clearer regions of Windows 2 and 3. Of course this was taking a risk that the fly might be too far above them and moving too fast, but it was worth a try. As an aside, the coloured bits of a Cascade are irrelevant in these conditions and presentation. The dark body gives a clear-cut silhouette against the bright surface: everything else is just supporting extras.
About a third of the way down I missed a light take about half way round the swing. It might have been a leaf, but nothing ventured, I repeated the cast on the same length and line. At exactly the same point, bang, thump and fish on. After 10 minutes of non-stop aggression, Mr Angry, resplendent in his fighting pyjamas and a growing kype, came into the net. He was clearly a long-term resident, so at 35 inches on the tape measure and a hefty discount for dieting, I scored him at 14 lbs and sent him on his way (he's almost upright in the poor photo - I try not to waste time on positioning the pose). Was he the fish that took and missed? We'll never know, but it's possible.
Duly elated I chopped off the last 6" of tippet (a life-long habit); checked the hook points and re-tied the battered but serviceable cascade; glued the knot; and carried on down the pool to no effect whatsoever. By the time I reached the bottom the light was starting to fade (as were my companions - fishing with the angling equivalent of an elderly Duracell Rabbit can be very tiring). I made my way up to Frodle for a chat, essential chocolate and some coffee, while we agreed the plan for the last half hour.
|Frodle Dub Tail|
17th October 2013
As I got right to the bottom hope was fading. At this point you are casting a long line at 45 degrees towards the round tree in the centre of the photo: tips, AFS and about 30-40 feet of runner to get a broad but slow coverage of a series of quite shallow lies in which fish hold having ascended the shallow haul from Flesh. About a quarter of the way round, bang! A fish was on and heading determinedly back to the Humber. Faced with the imminent risk of it getting into the fast water below, losing control and probably a good salmon, I got out onto the bank as fast as possible, detached my wading stick, and set of in pursuit as fast as the multitude of leg-breaking rabbit holes allowed. By now it was 60 yards away and still intent on going south, so it was time to gain the initiative. After due application of drag and left palm the fish turned, before deciding to explore the alternative of a trip up to Hawes via Aysgarth. As it passed I could see that it wasn't huge - about a yard long - but beautifully proportioned and fighting fit. After another 10 minutes it got its first sight of Patrick's net, which prompted a combination of high speed run and aerobatics. About 3 minutes later I got her head up for the first time and drew 15lbs of shiny steel grey, deep-bodied hen fish towards the net. In dark water and failing light this was tricky. Up on the bank looking down I had a good view. Down at water level Patrick could barely see the leader and nothing below the opaque surface. In the final moment something went disastrously wrong in the net: the fish somersaulted in a shower of spray; in the melee it seems that the loop between tip and leader caught on something; and the 15lbs leader snapped just below the loop. It was a beautifully proportioned fish in prime condition, a great fight and a sad loss. Even if she couldn't go in my book she was a valid score for the estate's records. You can't expect to win them all, and you've got to take the hits. As John drives a 4x4 I didn't have to walk all the way back to the car at High Thoresby Farm with the added burden of disappointment. And there's still next week to come.
We are indeed most lucky people to fish in a beautiful place for wonderful fish. The Ure's late runners are large, strong and in lovely condition. You couldn't ask for more.
|A view of heaven|
Frodle Rapids upstream with Bishopdale Beck Junction
17th October 2013